I told you that NBC got bitch-slapped by Univision last Wednesday in the 8 PM and 9 PM hours. Now comes the fallout: NBC’s unscripted show Chopping Block is being pulled from Wednesday’s primetime lineup at 8 PM after only 3 episodes aired. So reports James Hibberd, the excellent TV columnist. His sources say NBC informed affiliates Thursday PM that the reality series will bite the dust. (I tried watching it because I liked the BBC version Last Restaurant Standing, but NBC’s version featured Brit chef Marco Pierre White’s mumbling and fingerwagging.) The restaurant competition debuted poorly on March 12th, then plunged in the ratings with each week. Replacing it will be repeats of 2008 episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Now you can see I’m not the only one snarking about NBC’s failures. “NBC is fortunate to have Jay Leno’s 10 PM talk show in the fall considering how many slots are getting cleared out this season,” Hibberd notes. “Including Chopping Block, six series are not returning — Knight Rider, My Own Worst Enemy, Crusoe, Lipstick Jungle and ER. A couple midseason reality shows, Superstars of Dance and Momma’s Boys, are likely gone. Four others are looking pale and shaky — Friday Night Lights, Kath & Kim, Life, and Kings.”
OUCH! NBC Ratings Now Behind Univision
They came, they met, they didn’t decide to merge yet. I hear William Morris CEO Jim Wiatt was ”shaking”. He’s angry at how he’s being portrayed during these negotiations. (But, c’mon, what kind of leader doesn’t officially inform his staff until this morning there are merger talks underway even though they’re being played out on my website?) Now even his WMA colleagues are worried he’s gonna blow this deal they need. Could a coup d’etat be in the offing? Meanwhile, Endeavor is asking for more financial info. And other major agencies are starting betting pools.
WMA-Endeavor Merger: Today’s Meeting
URGENT! Endeavor-WMA Merger Hangs By Thread: Stop Or Go Decision Thursday
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Marvel Studios has started a writers program. The goal is to put more than half a dozen film writers on staff, give them an office, and “work them like horses!” one of my sources says. I’ve confirmed this smart move. (Makes you realize how backwards Warner Bros is by comparison on their DC Comics film development.) *UPDATE: Marvel comic book writers are not excluded from applying.* One source tells me the terms of the program “are apparently more onerous than the terms of the Disney Writers Program. Before the writers are even allowed to come in and meet, they must sign a non-disclosure agreement and a 70-page, non-negotiable contract. Among other things, the contract gives Marvel ownership over everything the writers create during the one year term of [the] deal, plus a first look and last refusal to any and all projects the writers have previously written or will write for 24 months in the future.” Egads! Unfortunately, with Hollywood feature development at a near standstill, I suspect Marvel could have its pick of film writers in exchange for $5 and a hot lunch.
Reps for both agencies meet again this afternoon for a pivotal confab.
From what I’m told, the merger hangs on not just WMA CEO Jim Wiatt behaving but on the numbers disclosed. Do they make sense? Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Is more financial information needed? Is enough being provided?
UPDATE: Endeavor just signed its 3rd WMA client this month — director Rod Lurie. I can’t fathom why any agency would be interested in this nasty piece of work who has hopscotched from APA, to WMA, to now ETA. My theory is that Endeavor now is just taunting Morris.
Endeavor-WMA Merger Hangs By Thread: Stop Or Go Decision Thursday
There is yet another erroneous blog post about me/DHD. Normally, I wouldn’t even bother to publicly respond. But the blogger is claiming to have interviewed me. This is false as well as the statements attributed to me. The blogger has taken my off-the-record “Umms” and “Hmms” and other noncommittal responses from one brief and casual conversation on another subject, and not only put these on-the-record, but also drawn inferences from them that have no basis in reality — a common complaint against this blogger. As for the blog post itself, everything in it is wrong (from the phantom sales discussions to the lowball traffic numbers). UPDATE: I received this email just now from Charlie Koones: “While I certainly spoke to [this blogger], I never claimed to have tried to buy your site for any amount of money.” 2ND UPDATE: Bill Jensen, director of new media for Village Voice Media, which operates DHD, states for the record, “I can assure you these numbers for Nikki Finke’s traffic are ridiculously low.”
I suppose all this attention is flattering. ‘Nuff said.
The agenda for the next L.A. City Council meeting on March 31st “could shut down television production in Los Angeles” by creating permit timelines that would make it even more difficult for episodic TV and commercial production that typically work in a much tighter time frame. So claims Hollywood location managers for TV shows and feature films who have joined with Jodi Strong, director of production planning for Film LA, in protesting an RFP (Request For Proposal) that will make “our lives, frankly, miserable”. Some of the problematic rules require:
– FilmLA to submit permit to LAPD 5 days in advance of film date
– FilmLA to submit permit to LAPD 10 days for exceptional activity (gunfire, explosions, car chases, helicopter etc)
– FilmLA to submit request for posting, lane closures and street closures 7 days in advance of the film date
– FilmLA to receive community surveys 10 days in advance of a film date
Today a message went out to the LA City Council complaining “not one word of this RFP was written or approved by the committee of film industry officials, community filming representatives and others representing the full range of concerns about filming in LA. That committee [appointed by the Public Works Committee] … suspended its deliberations some months ago when it became clear that core issues (enforcement of film permit parameters, processing time requirements for permits, etc) could not be addressed until the LAPD and City Council determined the role of … Read More »
NBC has launched what is being described to me as a “full security investigation” into the leak of that March 18th-dated “Consumer And Market Intelligence Research Summary” which I saw this weekend. ”It’s hysterical,” one insider emails. “Production services and legal are involved. (Do they work this hard to make good content?) A meeting this morning was held, now all showrunner’s computers must be password protected, and all old passwords on all show computers will be changed. Apparently all show runners computers were previously unprotected and accessible by anyone. So, as much as Ben is playing it down, they are freaking out!”
Ben Silverman Says Negative Test Results For NBC’s ‘Parks & Recreation’ Normal
Problems With NBC’s ‘Parks & Recreation’
Key dates were announced today for the 82nd Academy Awards. The big news was that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences wished to avoid the closing ceremonies of NBC’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver:
Beverly Hills, CA (March 25, 2009) — The 82nd Annual Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010, Academy President Sid Ganis announced today.
The ceremony will again take place at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.
Key dates currently scheduled are:
Tuesday, December 1, 2009: Official Screen Credits forms due
Monday, December 28, 2009: Nominations ballots mailed
Saturday, January 23, 2010: Nominations polls close 5 p.m. PT
Tuesday, February 2, 2010: Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT
Wednesday, February 10, 2010: Final ballots mailed
Monday, February 15, 2010: Nominees Luncheon
Saturday, February 20, 2010: Scientific & Technical Achievement Awards
Tuesday, March 2, 2010: Final polls close 5 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 7, 2010: 82nd Annual Academy Awards
Tomorrow morning, actor Tim Daly, Co-President of The Creative Coalition, will testify before the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee on the positive impact that the entertainment and arts communities have on the nation’s economy. Daly’s testimony will “focus on arts and entertainment as vital business enterprises which play an essential role in creating jobs across America”.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that, for the past two weeks, meetings between partners of William Morris and Endeavor agencies have been fraught with tension. The reluctance now to merge isn’t on the WMA side because Jim Wiatt and Dave Wirtschafter are known to be eager for this deal to happen. Rather, it’s from Endeavor’s side because there are fears there’s too much risk and not enough upside. On Thursday, which has been the day both sides have met for weeks now, all the designated partners will confab about the deal’s economics and then decide what the next step is. That’s when the two agencies will either agree to continue negotiating this merger or not. ”Thursday is a big day,” a source tells me.
Adding to the problem is that WMA has been obstinate when it comes to the two agencies’ discussions about who should stay and who should go if the two tenpercenteries merge. Emanuel, for instance, has been screaming at Wiatt, and battles have broken out among some of their subordinates. “Wiatt is trying to sell the group on his judgment and his leadership to save his people,” one insider tells me. ”Because Jim knows this deal will dismantle his company. So when Ari pushes Jim’s buttons, Wiatt panics and goes on the defensive. ”
My insiders at WMA acknowledge, ”Dave and Jim have failed as leaders. Yet they want the last hurrah and to let people think they’re in control. But they’ve got to let Ari lead and get out of his way.”… Read More »
It starts in November. Variety‘s story today is a carbon copy of mine from January 30th, TBS Wants George Lopez Late Night Talk
Kudos to NBC Universal for not trying to claim that the research summary I reported for the network’s rough-cut pilot of its forthcoming sitcom Parks and Recreation was fake. Instead, Ben Silverman defended the mockumentary which stars Amy Poehler and comes from The Office‘s Greg Daniels and Mike Schur, and premieres on April 9th. “All of the research we do around initial rough cuts is negative,” Silverman said to EW. “If you had seen the initial research on all of ours and our competitors’ successful shows, it tends to be like that.” Ben is absolutely correct: poor test scores like this are quite common. Because most of the stuff in network primetime is crap, and most of the testing takes place in loser venues like Las Vegas. And yet the idiot network execs keep using the research to torture every show’s writers, producers and showrunners. Especially at NBC. Go figure.
Problems With NBC’s ‘Parks & Recreation’
From what I can glean from insiders, no one covering or editing showbiz at the Los Angeles Times was laid off on Black Monday. Unless it was kept very, very quiet. But the entertainment beat staff look safe for now.
I called Warner Bros early today for confirmation when I heard that Barry Meyer and Alan Horn had re-upped their contracts. And I was lied to by Warner Bros. Just like I was lied to by the studio last summer when I first heard the duo were starting to negotiate, and Jeff Bewkes was balking at giving Meyer and Horn a full 3-year, or 4-year, or 5-year vote of confidence. So instead I’d been discussing this situation with my sources inside parent company Time Warner. I heard from them on March 2nd that Bewkes ultimately would offer to re-sign Meyer and Horn. But the issue was for how long. In the end, after not wanting to renew the pair, Bewkes is keeping them on a 2-year choke chain.
One year in charge, and everyone is waiting for Bewkes to again shake things up in Hollywood. (Like when he re-possessed Bob Shaye’s New Line.) Warner Bros needs a top to bottom earthquake. Let’s face it, tired and cranky Barry Meyer for most of the past year had been threatening to retire, and people were starting to take him at his word. He would have left quite a legacy: Warner Bros TV doesn’t have anywhere near the profit or clout it used to despite a plethora of expensive creative deals. Of course, Time Warner doesn’t break out Warner Bros’ earnings, a convenient legacy dating back to when Bob Daly and Terry Semel ran the studio. … Read More »
Kudos to New Moon‘s Summit Entertainment and director Chris Weitz for bringing on board award-winning casting director Rene Haynes who is well-known for her work on Native projects ranging from Dances With Wolves to Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Each member of the wolf pack she cast is of Native American/First Nation descent: actors Chaske Spencer (Sioux), Bronson Pelletier (Cree-Metis), Alex Meraz Purepecha-Tarasco), Kiowa Gordon (Hualapai), and Tyson Houseman (Cree).